The government of Togo will this month begin the process of auctioning off a third mobile licence via an international tender. In a press release, the Ministere des Postes et de l’Economie Numerique has confirmed that the tender for 2G, 3G and 4G mobile services will hopefully be concluded in October this year; the indicative timetable is as follows:
- Publication of the official press announcements and availability of the Information Notice – as of 30 June 2014
- Payment of the administrative fees and sending of the initial version of the Bidding Document – week starting 8 July 2014
- Meetings with candidates – end of July 2014
- Sending of the final version of the Bidding Document – 29 August 2014
- Submission of offers – 1 October 2014.
A consortium composed of the investment bank Linkstone Capital, the law firm Bird & Bird and the consulting firm Artelia have been retained by the government to act as advisors on the sale.
The statement goes on to say that interested bidders are invited to request the Information Notice which contains (i) a synthetic presentation of the transaction process, (ii) an overview of Togo and of its telecommunications sector, (iii) a description of the integrated qualification process which will take place at the opening of the offers stage and (iv) a description of the procedure to be followed by potential investors to receive the bidding document. The closing of the transaction is expected to take place in October 2014.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, it is not the first time that the government has tried to award a third licence. In November 2008 France Telecom-Orange (FT, now known as Orange Group) announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government of the West African state, opening up the way for exclusive negotiations with regards to ‘a new global operator licence’ under the Orange brand. However, the trail went cold and the status quo remains unchanged, despite a May 2011 update in which the regulator, Autorite de Reglementation des Secteurs de Postes et Telecommunications (ART&P), confirmed its intentions to further liberalise the sector by licensing a new mobile operator through ‘a transparent process’. Firms such as Mauritius-based Planor Afrique (owner of Telecel Faso), Libyan telecoms holding company LAP Green Network and France’s Orange Group are all names to have been linked with a potential third licence in Togo.
The wireless market in Togo is currently a duopoly of Togo Cellulaire (Togocel), the mobile arm of fixed line incumbent Togo Telecom, and Atlantique Telecom (Moov), which is controlled by UAE-based telecoms operator Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat). The cellcos each received GSM operating licences in the late-1990s. Togecel launched commercially in 1997 followed by Moov two years later, and they have since amassed more than three million users between them.